Monday, October 3, 2011

Montessori Musings: Russian

Since we are already a bilingual family with German and English, I haven't tried to do much with my kids in the area of foreign languages.  However, since we will be taking a trip to Russia in the near future, my kids have expressed a lot of interest in learning a bit of the language.  Since I really believe in the Montessori principle of "Follow the child", I decided to jump on the chance to follow their interests in Russian.

We started learning some basic vocabulary with these wooden blocks pictured below. I bought them years ago when I lived in Russia and never dreamed that I would be using them with my own children.  We've been adding a couple of words a week and are about halfway through the alphabet.

Then, a friend of mine recently showed me a website for teaching Russian as a foreign language with free downloads called УРЯ. We downloaded the workbooks below here. (You have to be able to speak a little Russian in order to register and navigate the site! If anyone needs help, please e-mail me and I can give some tips.)

With my daughter who is learning to read in English, I am only concentrating on vocabulary and not attempting to teach her the Cyrillic alphabet.  But coloring the pictures while learning a new word is a sensorimotor activity that helps her remember the word. My son, however, who is 8, is able to associate the Cyrillic letters with sounds.

I got very excited when I found Montessori-like letter cards on the УРЯ site with the consonants in one color and the vowels in another. (Click here to view them.) I immediately had the idea to make a matching game for my son with some of the letters that he already knows.  I downloaded clip art pictures to match the letters and glued them on index cards.  (Yes, I am a complete nerd and make Montessori stuff in my free time! When I don't have the time or money to laminate, I often make Montessori materials with index cards.) So that my son could check his own work, I numbered the cards on the back. It was the first thing he did when he woke up this morning, so I was happy that he found it interesting.


  1. What beautiful materials! Thank you for sharing and what a great way to follow your children's interests into something that will give them such a great base in something new.


  2. Wow! Wonderful materials! Great job not only on the extra materials but with the love of language in your home!


  3. Oh, boy! As a language - and especially Russian - lover myself, I can feel your delight in finding those beautiful letter cards :) The blocks are really neat, too. It's fascinating to watch child-led learning unfold!

  4. How wonderful to teach them a third language, I love foreign languages, and worked with my children on French when they were younger, now they are working on Spanish in school, and I would love to give them a few basic lessons in German as well. I think the study of language is so beautiful, and such a wonderful thing to incorporate into a child's life. Love the materials you have found :) ~April

  5. How wonderful that your kids are learning Russian at a young age, Sheila. Your materials are beautiful! I added your post to my Foreign Language for Kids Pinterest board: I hope you'll link up one of your wonderful posts to Montessori Monday this week, too!